Relationship between mindset and motivation

Photo of Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University has been studying the link between motivation and achievement for nearly 40 years.

She has discovered that you can hold either of two different views or “mindsets” of your own intelligence. Only one of these mindsets is strongly linked to mastery which is one of the three key elements of motivation.

In her book “Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential”, Carol says

“Many people think of the brain as a mystery. They don’t know much about intelligence and how it works. When they do think about what intelligence is, many people believe that a person is born either smart, average, or dumb – and stays that way for life. But new research shows that the brain is more like a muscle – it changes and gets stronger when you use it. And scientists have been able to show just how the brain grows and gets stronger when you learn.

When you learn new things, these tiny connections in the brain actually multiply and get stronger. The more that you challenge your mind to learn, the more your brain cells grow. Then, things that you once found very hard or even impossible – like speaking a foreign language or doing algebra – seem to become easy. The result is a stronger, smarter brain.”

It is highly probably that we have experience of having both “growth” and “fixed” mindsets depending on the circumstances. What it is important to know is that we have choice and we can choose to develop a “growth” mindset in whatever circumstances may arise.

This activity will:

  • help you to understand the two different types of mindset and discover what type of mindset you have
  • help you to look at what you can do to get into the habit of using a “growth” mindset which will help you to keep yourself motivated throughout your career

Activity instructions

1. Take Carol Dweck’s simple test (opens in a new window) to find out what type of mindset you have

2. On the Mindsetonline website (you do not need to buy the book that is referenced!), read how the mindset of people like Thomas Edison’s made them super-achievers How Mindset Affects Your Success (opens in a new window)

3. Discover how developing a growth mindset “voice” Four Simple Steps to begin changing your Mindset can help you deal with:

  • challenges
  • setbacks
  • facing criticism

A question to reflect upon “what do you think that you can do to help you get into a regular habit of using a “growth” mindset?”